Norway to offset fossil fuel production as it transitions to green energy

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With the conflict in Ukraine affecting energy flows from Russia, Norway has become Europe’s largest supplier of natural gas. But the Nordic nation also has some of the most ambitious climate goals in the world and is looking to renewable sources and new technologies to achieve them.

In addition to the Paris Agreement on climate change, Norway has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 90-95% below 1990 levels by 2050.

As a European benchmark for oil and gas, Norway is trying to balance fossil fuel production with a transition to green alternatives.

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Leif Johan Sevland is President and CEO of the ONS Foundation, a world-renowned non-profit organization that facilitates discussion and collaboration on energy, technology and innovation. He says embracing the future is key to achieving this goal.

“New technologies, being open-minded to new technologies, supporting those who are the innovators, cheering them on, cheering them on, these are the heroes of today and tomorrow,” says Sevland.

One of the technologies adopted by Norway is carbon capture and storage, or CCS. The country has launched the Longship project and the new venture Northern Lights, which is a cooperation between Norwegian energy giant Equinor, Shell and Total.

Northern Lights, which will go live in 2024, sees CCS technology taking a new direction according to the project’s technical director, Cristel Lambton.

“Traditionally, CCS projects have typically captured the volume of their own emissions, regardless of facility, and injected it themselves. What we are developing with Longship and then with Northern Lights is transportation and storage offered as a service to any type of industry in any type of location, as long as they are accessible to us by transportation,” Lambton explained.

The project is still under construction, but the venture, which will see liquefied carbon dioxide pumped into tanks 2,600 meters below the seabed, is taking shape.

The CO2 will arrive by boat and then end up in 12 gigantic steel containers where the liquid carbon dioxide will wait to be pumped to its final resting place under the sea.

By the time this project reaches its second phase in 2026, it is hoped that it will be able to store between five and seven million tonnes of CO2 each year that would otherwise have gone into the atmosphere.

Two huge ships that will bring CO2 to Norway are currently being built at shipyards in China’s Liaoning province to facilitate deliveries.

One of the technologies adopted by Norway is carbon capture and storage, or CCS.  /CGTN

One of the technologies adopted by Norway is carbon capture and storage, or CCS. /CGTN

One of the technologies adopted by Norway is carbon capture and storage, or CCS. /CGTN

“Norway ready to be a leader”

Kjersti Dahle, director of technology, analytics and coexistence at the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the government agency regulating oil and gas resources, says Norway is ready to be a leader in this area.

“We think we have a high capacity. The estimates we’ve made are that you can store over 100 years of Germany’s current shows per year, so that’s a lot,” Dahle said.

Carbon capture and storage is crucial to Norway’s transition from fossil fuels to carbon neutral alternatives.

Lambton says CCS gives polluting industries the ability to “clean up” production.

“Some industries, even if they switch to renewable energy for their electricity supply, their own process emits CO2. This is what we call hard-to-reduce emissions. These industries like cement, waste incineration and metallurgy at the moment, cannot manufacture their own product without emitting CO2.”

This is where projects in Norway could become important in the developing world to enable nations to build infrastructure and industries, while meeting climate goals, as the steel and cement industries are responsible for 14 % of global emissions.

While critics worry about the risk of leaks in underwater reservoirs, those behind projects like Northern Lights insist it’s safe and puts carbon back where it came from – under earth.

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